What To Put On Cabinets After Painting

Congratulations! You've just finished painting your cabinets, and they look fantastic. But now comes the important question: what should you put on them to protect and maintain their newly refreshed appearance?

Just like putting the finishing touches on a perfect painting, the right product can make all the difference in the longevity and overall look of your cabinets. Think of it like putting on a coat of armor.

The right product will keep your cabinets safe from scratches, scuffs, and stains, as well as enhance their beauty. In this article, we'll walk you through the best options for what to put on your cabinets after painting, so you can enjoy your newly refreshed space for years to come.

Key Takeaways

  • Clear coat or sealer should be applied to protect and enhance the finish of painted cabinets.
  • Polyurethane, wax, and lacquer are common types of clear coats and sealers, each with their own pros and cons to consider.
  • Application can be done using a brush, roller, or sprayer, and proper cleaning and preparation of the surface is essential before applying any finish.
  • Maintenance involves using non-abrasive cleaners, avoiding rough sponges or scrubbers, and avoiding excess moisture and heat to prevent damage to the painted cabinets.

Clean and Prepare the Cabinets

You'll need to roll up your sleeves and get ready to scrub those cabinets until they shine like new! Before applying any finish, it's important to properly clean and prepare the surface.

Start by removing any hardware and giving the cabinets a thorough wipe down with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris.

Next, it's time to get into the nitty-gritty of cleaning techniques. Use a degreaser to remove any built-up grime or grease, and then follow up with a gentle abrasive cleaner to remove any stuck-on residue. For tough stains, you may want to use a scrub brush or even sandpaper to achieve a smooth surface.

Once you're satisfied with the cleanliness of the cabinets, allow them to dry completely before moving on to the next step of applying a clear coat or sealer.

Now that your cabinets are sparkling clean and ready for their new finish, it's time to apply a clear coat or sealer.

Apply a Clear Coat or Sealer

Now that you've painted your cabinets, it's time to apply a clear coat or sealer to protect the finish and keep it looking great for years to come.

There are several types of clear coats and sealers to choose from, including polyurethane, wax, and lacquer.

Applying a clear coat or sealer can be done using a brush, roller, or sprayer, depending on the product and your preference.

Before you start, it's important to understand the pros and cons of using a clear coat or sealer, as well as the specific instructions for the product you choose.

Types of Clear Coats and Sealers

There are several types of clear coats and sealers that can be used to protect and enhance the finish of painted cabinets. Here are some of the most common types and their characteristics:

  • Polyurethane: This clear coat is available in both spray and brush-on formulas and provides a durable, water-resistant finish. It can be applied in a matte or glossy finish depending on your preference.

  • Lacquer: A fast-drying option, lacquer is typically applied with a spray gun and provides a hard, shiny finish. It's important to note that lacquer is flammable and requires proper ventilation during application.

  • Wax: For a more natural, low-luster finish, wax can be applied with a cloth or brush. It's important to note that wax is not as durable as other clear coats and will need to be reapplied periodically.

When deciding which type of clear coat or sealer to use on painted cabinets, consider the level of durability and shine you desire. Once you've selected the appropriate product, the next step is to learn how to apply it correctly.

How to Apply Them

To properly protect and enhance your painted cabinets, applying the right clear coat or sealer is essential. However, applying a clear coat can be a daunting task for many DIYers. But fear not, with the right tools and application technique, you can achieve a professional-looking finish.

First, ensure that you have the appropriate tools needed for the job. You'll need a high-quality synthetic brush or a sprayer, sandpaper, and a clean rag.

Before applying the clear coat, make sure that the cabinet surface is clean and free of any dust or debris. Then, apply the clear coat in thin and even layers, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Sand the surface lightly between each coat for better adhesion.

Once the final coat is applied, let it dry for at least 24 hours before using your cabinets. With these simple steps, you can achieve a beautiful and durable finish for your painted cabinets.

Transitioning to the subsequent section about the pros and cons of using a clear coat or sealer, it's important to note that while a clear coat can provide excellent protection and durability to your painted cabinets, it can also alter the appearance of the surface.

Now, let's explore the pros and cons of using a clear coat or sealer on your painted cabinets.

Pros and Cons of Using a Clear Coat or Sealer

Using a clear coat or sealer on painted cabinets can have both benefits and drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons to consider:

  1. Spray vs brush application: You can either use a spray can or a brush when applying a clear coat or sealer. Spray application is faster and more efficient, while brush application allows for more control and precision.

  2. Matte vs glossy finish: Clear coats and sealers come in both matte and glossy finishes. Matte finishes are great for a more subdued, natural look, while glossy finishes add shine and depth to the color.

  3. Durability: A clear coat or sealer can protect your painted cabinets from scratches, dings, and fading. However, if not applied correctly or maintained properly, it can also cause yellowing or peeling over time.

When deciding whether to use a clear coat or sealer on your painted cabinets, consider the application method, finish, and durability. Keep in mind that using a clear coat or sealer isn't necessary, but it can prolong the life of your cabinets. If you do decide to use a clear coat or sealer, the next step is to determine whether to use wax or polish.

Use Wax or Polish

For a smooth and polished finish on your newly painted cabinets, you can apply a coat of wax or polish. There are two types of wax and polish you can use: natural and synthetic.

Natural wax and polish are made from organic materials such as beeswax or carnauba wax. They're eco-friendly, non-toxic, and don't emit harmful fumes. Synthetic wax and polish, on the other hand, are made from chemicals and are generally cheaper than natural ones. They're easy to apply and have a long shelf life.

When applying wax or polish, make sure to follow the instructions on the label. Start by cleaning the surface of your cabinets thoroughly. Then, apply a thin layer of wax or polish using a soft cloth. Rub the wax or polish gently onto the surface, making sure to cover all areas. Allow the wax or polish to dry completely before buffing it with a clean, dry cloth. This will give your cabinets a glossy and shiny finish.

If you prefer not to use wax or polish, there are other options you can consider. Stay tuned for the next section where we'll discuss other ways to protect your newly painted cabinets.

Consider Other Options

If wax and polish aren't your preferred choices, there are still other ways to safeguard your newly painted cabinets. Here are a few options that you can consider:

  1. Decorative knobs: Swapping out your old cabinet knobs for new, decorative ones can add a touch of personality to your kitchen while also protecting your paint job. Just make sure to choose knobs that fit the pre-existing holes in your cabinets to avoid drilling new ones.

  2. Vinyl decals: Vinyl decals are an easy and affordable way to add some flair to your cabinets while also providing a layer of protection. You can find decals in a variety of designs and patterns to match your kitchen decor.

  3. Contact paper or decorative adhesive film: Covering your cabinets with contact paper or decorative adhesive film can give them a whole new look while preventing scratches and damage to the paint. Just be sure to choose a high-quality, durable product that won't peel or bubble over time.

With these options, you can keep your cabinets looking fresh and protected for years to come. When it comes to maintenance and care, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your cabinets stay in good condition.

Maintenance and Care

Now that you've considered other options for finishing your cabinets, it's time to think about maintenance and care. Proper care will ensure that your cabinets stay looking pristine for years to come.

One important aspect of maintaining your newly painted cabinets is knowing the right polishing techniques. When it comes to polishing your cabinets, it's important to use a non-abrasive cleaner. Harsh chemicals can damage the finish and cause discoloration over time.

A simple solution of warm water and dish soap is a great option for cleaning your cabinets. Be sure to avoid using rough sponges or scrubbers that can scratch the surface. After cleaning, use a soft cloth to dry and polish the cabinets.

Additionally, long term care involves avoiding excessive moisture exposure and keeping your cabinets away from direct sunlight. By following these simple maintenance tips, you can keep your newly painted cabinets looking beautiful for years to come.


Congratulations! You've successfully painted your cabinets and given them a fresh new look. But the question remains, what should you put on them to protect and maintain their appearance? Fear not, as we've got some tips to keep your cabinets looking their best.

Firstly, ensure that your cabinets are clean and free of any dust or debris before applying any protective coating. This will ensure that the coating adheres properly and provides maximum protection.

One option is to apply a clear coat or sealer, which will act as a barrier against moisture, scratches, and stains. Alternatively, you could use wax or polish to give your cabinets a subtle shine and protect them from wear and tear.

It's important to consider other options too, such as using decorative knobs or handles to add a touch of personality to your cabinets. Additionally, you may want to experiment with different colors or finishes to create a unique look that suits your style.

Remember to regularly maintain and care for your cabinets by wiping them down with a soft cloth and avoiding harsh chemicals that could damage the protective coating.

In conclusion, protecting your newly painted cabinets is crucial to ensure that they look their best for years to come. Whether you choose to apply a clear coat, wax, or polish, be sure to clean and prepare your cabinets thoroughly beforehand. Don't forget to consider other options like decorative knobs and handles, and regularly maintain and care for your cabinets to keep them looking their best. Happy painting!

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